Jersey Shore for Thanksgiving
September 8, 2013 1:28 PM   Subscribe

My family wants to have Thanksgiving in a central location for all of us. We've also talked in the past about renting a big house for all of us to get together in a beach town off season. Any suggestions on towns and/or specific properties or agencies that will result in a good holiday for all of us?

Additional information:

The three branches of the family are in Western MA, NYC and Baltimore. We all have cars so the location does not have to be accessible by public transit. The NYC branch is most willing to drive the furthest. Cape May has already been nixed because it is too far for the Western, MA contingent.

We will be a total of six adults (three couples). We will want to cook Thanksgiving dinner so there needs to be a kitchen - we can bring some supplies, but would like there to be plates, eating cutlery, pots and pans.

Any suggestions on how to make this happen would be greatly appreciated.
posted by sciencegeek to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My family did this a few years ago! We had an AMAZING time. I would recommend Brigantine, NJ, which is not as quite far south as Cape May. Brigantine is lovely and quiet, has some great houses and has recovered pretty well from Hurricane Sandy (I was just there a month or so ago and it looked pretty much like it always has). It's my experience that most shore houses in NJ have full kitchens, you can certainly ask and tailor your search that way. We cooked our Thanksgiving dinner in a huge, beautiful kitchen with CONVECTION OVENS and then made Christmas cookies the next day. We still all talk about how much fun it was.
posted by Aquifer at 1:38 PM on September 8, 2013

Have you looked into VRBO?
posted by DarlingBri at 1:39 PM on September 8, 2013

VRBO is an excellent resource when you know which town/neighborhood you want to be in.

I'm also leery of renting something without a personal recommendation - one of the people involved is not tolerant of issues with rentals/hotels/etc.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:46 PM on September 8, 2013

Red Bank, NJ is a really cute town with great restaurants, a downtown, an independent movie theatre and close to the beach.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:56 PM on September 8, 2013

As a former resident, I'll second the Red Bank recommendation. In fact, some of the beach towns just south of Red Bank are great as well. Belmar, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, etc. are some nice areas as well. YMMV due to post-Sandy recovery though - I haven't been up there recently.
posted by Gronk at 2:54 PM on September 8, 2013

For years, my husband and I spent Thanksgiving in Cape May. It was quaint and beautiful, and there were lots of places open. Thanksgiving dinner at the Washington Inn is wonderful.
posted by hrj at 4:37 PM on September 8, 2013

I'm in Red Bank a lot (today, in fact!). It's one of the best towns in NJ but not exactly "the beach" and doesn't have a big house-rental market like the true shore towns. It is hopping year-round, though, so if you want someplace that doesn't seem dead, it may work. And if you have veg/ans in your party it is a must-visit for Good Karma Cafe, The Cinnamon Snail food truck, and Papa Ganache (Matawan). Whole Foods is nearby.

The places worst hit/least recovered from Sandy are out on Long Beach Island and along the southern coast of Raritan Bay. Most other towns are restored to their pre-hurricane state. I like Ocean Grove, Spring Lake, and Bay Head.
posted by apparently at 4:57 PM on September 8, 2013

Lifelong year round Jersey Shore resident here and I would recommend Spring Lake or Lavallette.
In Spring Lake you have Third Ave with great little shops, that classic boardwalk with all the Victorians, rainy walks around the picturesque Lake, and some great Irish taverns. In Lavallette you have sugar sand beaches and a newly replaced boardwalk, town-wide public access with docks to lovely Barnegat Bay, and best of all getting loaded with the locals at the Crab's Claw Inn the night before Thanksgiving, and walking home.
Looks like plenty of weekly rentals in both towns.
posted by henry scobie at 5:47 PM on September 8, 2013

I grew up in Red Bank and visit often, and while it is a 100% wonderful town, it is not rich in vacation rental housing. As Apparently notes, it is a great place to spend a day shopping and eating and has a mini-urban feel and is extremely festive at Thanksgiving, it is decidedly not a beach town - it's a 20-minute drive to a walk along the shore.

Take a look at Ocean City, NJ, which is just chock-full of big 4- and 5-bedroom houses designed for large families to gather, cook, and eat. Most places are well supplied with full kitchens and plenty of cooking gear, because it is really designed for weeklong summer rentals and people basically do a ton of their own big-family cooking. A rental agent can steer you to a well-equipped house. It has a charming downtown, incredible long sandy beaches, and a real feeling of getaway. It is the perfect mix of beach-walking, board games, quiet times, and downtown rambling. Several businesses in town can set you up with excellent fresh bread and produce, and there are two large supermarkets. The boardwalk has a few businesses open all year and is never dead. It is a dry town, but all that means is bring your own booze and drink at home; there aren't any bars and you can't BYO to the restaurants, but you're completely welcome to enjoy beer and cocktails on your deck or at your rental home. We always rent from Monihan but there are many listings on VRBO and other local listings.

I also lived for a while in Ocean Grove. I love that town, but the house rentals are not usually roomy enough for larger family gatherings.
posted by Miko at 6:23 PM on September 8, 2013

If CapeMay is too far then most of New Jerseys shore will probably be too far. How about a lake house in the Catskills west of new york? Great little towns out there. Or something in the Hudson Valley like Beacon NY?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:50 AM on September 9, 2013

I'll vote for Belmar or Spring Lake, With Manasquan and Bradley Beach as backups. These are all pretty close to eachother.
posted by WeekendJen at 6:53 AM on September 9, 2013

Thanks for this question, I was going to ask almost the identical one and now I don't have to. We even have folks coming in from Western MA too.
posted by octothorpe at 10:06 AM on September 9, 2013

I do this with a group in Ocean City. It has a lot of big rentals with two units, so you can rent out both and have a quiet unit on one side and a party unit on the other, which works out really well if there are kids. (Or adults that want some quiet.) It doesn't seem to be the most hopping place in terms of pubs and events, and is a dry town as others have noted. But you can get a big beach house really close to the shore itself.

Bonus: you can drive into Atlantic City if you get super-bored.
posted by lillygog at 1:18 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wanted to thank everyone for the recommendations. The Western MA contingent decided that they didn't want to drive more than a couple of hours and we defaulted to our usual Thanksgiving location.

Someday I will get the family to spend some time on the beach out of season. This is not that day.

Thank you all for the recommendations, and hopefully I'll be able to put them to use at some point in the future.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:22 AM on September 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

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